When Katherine Legge got involved with Bendigo’s Science & Technology Centre in 2001, the decision was a no brainer.
Dr Legge served as chair of the board from 2007 to 2010, deputy chair from 2010 to 2012 and president of the restructured Discovery Board from 2015.
“I think it’s about time we had a turn over of people. I can’t stay there for ever,” she said.
“Fresh eyes and management for the organisation is a good thing. I thought I have done what I could for Discovery and want to give other people a chance to participate.”
The La Trobe University Bendigo associate professor saw the opportunity to introduce science and technology to young people in Bendigo.
“With my background in physics and science, I thought it was a good thing and was astonished that Bendigo had such a centre,” she said.
“It was very unique for non-metropolitan centre to have something like (Discovery). So I was very interested in making sure we could let the community come and use it.”
Over the next 17 years, the community would play a key part in Discovery’s story.
With the threat of closure for Discovery imminent in May, 2015, Dr Legge was able to bring together an group of community members and staff to turn Discovery into a successful not-for-profit community asset.
“There was a real mixture of emotions at the time. There was shock at the idea we might close down but a lot of work by a lot of people made sure it didn’t happen,” she said.
“I felt real warmth when I saw the community's action and them saying ‘you’re not shutting (Discovery) down on our watch’. It gave a few of us strength to say ‘this is what Bendigo wants’.
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“Since then we have not only managed to keep the doors open but have got a strong committee in place.
“I am pleased to be standing aside with the members now managing the centre and the knowledge that the community wants us to keep going.”
Dr Legge said it would have been disappointing to see Discovery fall on her watch.
“It has taken a couple of years to get to a point where we are sustainable but since we had the first community meeting, it was obvious they were behind Discovery and I was proud of Bendigo (for that),” she said.
Incoming president Ann Lansberry was a newcomers in 2015 who has played a key role in saving Discovery.
“Katherine’s determination and ability to not take no for an answer was vital to the community effort to keep a science centre in Bendigo,” Ms Lansberry said.
“It’s exciting that two years since the Discovery restructure, we can say thank you to Katherine in a newly refurbished auditorium and celebrate the ongoing community support that is keeping Discovery open.”